Champion last year and classic winner this year, unbeaten Nyquist (by Uncle Mo) is living the life dreamt of for his sire. An unbeaten 2-year-old and juvenile champion himself, Uncle Mo was a hot prospect for the classics till his 3-year-old season came off the rails.
More often than not, that is the way things work out in racing. Rising to the top of a crop one season is difficult enough, but for a horse to maintain dominance over all his contemporaries from season to season is astonishing difficult.
So is Nyquist better than his sire?
Well, yes, on the bare record, he unquestionably is. Nyquist is still unbeaten after eight races, including the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, and the best victory for Uncle Mo at 3 came in the G2 Kelso Handicap at a mile. That would be a stellar effort for an average good horse, but Uncle Mo was a champion and so much more was expected of him.
Yet because of the horse’s size and impressive presence, Uncle Mo went to stud at the top of the heap among his contemporaries. With a stud fee of $35,000 live foal, Uncle Mo covered more mares than any other stallion in the country, not just among his fellow new stallions.
One of those mares was Seeking Gabrielle, a daughter of Forestry and G2 winner Seeking Regina (Seeking the Gold). Horse breeder and trader James Keogh said, “I had been following the dam of Nyquist for a while [when she was on the racetrack], and as soon as she won her maiden, I decided I’d have a go at her, but when they dropped her in for $12,500 [claiming price], the trainer botched the claim, but then I was able to buy her privately for a bit less as things would happen.”
Keogh had the filly shipped to Kentucky, where he “cleaned her up, put a little weight on her, and sent her to the January sale,” where she sold for $45,000. “The quality of her half-sisters and the horses they were being bred to were the linchpin to selling her,” Keogh said, and “she is the 13th dam of a future G1 winner that I’ve been fortunate enough to sell.”
Seeking Gabrielle was purchased out of the Keeneland January in 2012 with the intention of reselling in foal to Uncle Mo later that year. Reselling the mare immediately didn’t work out, but her colt by Uncle Mo was so fetching that breeder Summerhill Farm entered both mare and foal in the 2013 Keeneland November sale.
According to data from Equineline, Uncle Mo had 165 foals of 2013, and from the beginning, the Kentucky Derby winner has been among the very best of them. At the November sale, the future champion brought $180,000, while his dam sold for $100,000.
Bred in Kentucky by Summerhill Farm, the name of the breeding entity of Tim Hyde Sr., Tim Hyde Jr., and Paul Shanahan, the Uncle Mo colt out of Seeking Gabrielle was very appealing from the beginning, and the March foal caught the eyes of interested pinhookers, including Pat Costello, who was marketing the mare and foal through Paramount Sales.
Costello said, Nyquist “was in my consignment in November that year. We’re always on the lookout for a nice horse to buy; so Ted Campion and I went in with Gerry Dilger and bought this horse, and we kept him at Dromoland. He grew up lovely, and we always thought that whatever bonuses he gave as a 2-year-old, he was a two-turn kind of horse.
“Dromoland sold him as a yearling [for the three partners]. The colt was always growing, was a big-framed colt, and made up into a big, leggy horse. Honestly, we thought he would make an even nicer horse if he’d filled out more. Always a big yearling – he must have nearly stopped growing as a yearling.”
Selling for $180,000 as a weanling and for $230,000 as a yearling, Nyquist ranked as the 6th priciest of 26 first-crop foals by Uncle Mo, then was the 10th of 95 yearlings when he sold to Niall Brennan and Mike Ryan’s entity listed as Sutton Place Stable at the 2014 September yearling sale.
Certainly, Nyquist was a good-sized 2-year-old when they brought him to Fasig-Tipton’s Florida sale at Gulfstream in 2015, but he was far from outsized. The bay colt showed good speed in working a furlong in :10 2/5, but the way he did it was more impressive. His stride length was more than a foot longer than average for that sale; the quality of his motion was very good, low and smooth; and he looked the part of a good horse back at the barn.
The combination of all these multiple positive qualities drove buyers to Nyquist, who sold for $400,000 to Dennis O’Neill, agent for Paul Reddam. The future Kentucky Derby winner brought the fourth-highest price of 41 juveniles in training by Uncle Mo in 2015.
Reddam has already sold the stallion rights in his champion to Darley, and Nyquist has proven himself the rare horse who spreads glory and wealth to everyone associated with him.